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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Maruti Ertiga VDi-A good allrounder

I’ve not driven an ertiga yet and was looking for an opportunity to do so. When I saw that Carzonrent Bengaluru have an Ertiga VDi on self drive rental, I booked it for my next road trip-a 4 day 1600km trip covering Bangalore-Shimoga-Sirsi-Dandeli-Karwar-Chikmagalur and back to Bengaluru.
From the front, Ertiga doesn't really feel like a MPV. Clicked somewhere near Sagara
Ertiga has many competition now- Chevy Enjoy (which I drove last November, review here), Nissan Evalia and so on. In this post I am sharing my experience with Ertiga, based on above usage, occasionally comparing it with Enjoy and Xylo, the other 2 MPVs I’ve driven.
 
First time I got into driver’s seat of Ertiga, it felt like an underground bunker. I reached for height adjustment and there was none. Feeling uncomfortable, I actually asked my cousin for a pillow, so that it can help increase my height and improve visibility. But this discomfort was a temporary one. From Day 2 onwards I didn’t use the pillow- didn’t feel any discomfort in the driver’s seat once I got used to the vehicle.

Is the Space adequate in Ertiga for 7 pax?:
We had 6 confirmed participants for the trip and 2 tentative. I was thinking worst case scenario, we can accommodate 8 people in Ertiga if really required. Eventually we had 7 pax and with their bags all available space inside the vehicle was taken. Ertiga can comfortably seat 7 people, but if each of them have a bag or two, then luggage space will not be adequate and you’ve to go for a roof mounted carrier. With luggage, Ertiga is comfortable for 6 people over long drives.

The 3rd row has reduced width, due to wheel camber occupying some space on both sides. Last row gets two seatbelts and sitting here is manageable, with occasionally your head hitting the roof, if driver goes over a speed breaker or pothole at high speeds. Height adjustable headrests and handlebars to hold offer some comfort. The third row window is fixed (unlike Xylo and Enjoy which have a butterfly window) but second row window is much more wider than any normal car and it compensates for 3rd row. No 3rd row Ac vents, but second row AC vents have adequate reach. A large cup holder can hold even 2 litre bottles of coke or mineral water.
3rd row seats- notice reduced width and also place for cup holders
The 2nd row gets 60:40 split seats, with a foldable armrest. Together it appears like a bench seat, but both seats can be adjusted independently. The 3rd person who is expected to sit in the middle of second row will be the most uncomfortably seated person in the entire car- the seat belt for this passenger is fairly inadequate, he/she doesn’t get a head rest and nothing concrete to hold on to, while curves are being negotiated. Plus this person can't have a recline as per his or her convenience, has to depend on the right side person. So essentially Ertiga should be called six-and-a-half-seater. 2nd row doors are unusually large and entry and exit is not really difficult.

First row, as usual gets best of the settings and comfort. No height adjustment in VDi variant.
 
But Ertiga is nowhere close to Innova in terms of space and ride comfort. If you have an option of renting an Innova taxi vs Ertiga taxi, I would recommend Innova any day. But when it comes to buying one, given that Ertiga costs half as much as Innova, it stands as good value for money package.

How does Ertiga drives compared to its cousins (Swift) and competition (other MPVs)?
I am very pleased with handling of Ertiga. Absolutely no complaints. Despite fully loaded with 7 pax, cutting tight corners at 70-80kmph was piece of cake- Ertiga never complained. When I had tried the same with Enjoy few months ago, vehicle begged me to slow down. Chevy Enjoy was like “Hey, cutting corners at high speeds was NOT in my job description. I was told I only have to ferry people around at moderate speeds while ensuring high fuel economy. Please don’t push me too much”. But Ertiga on the other hand has all the driving DNA from its Swift cousins. Steering is extremely responsive and braking is efficient. I think  one big difference between Ertiga and Enjoy is their engineering. Ertiga is front wheel driven car, with all power going to front two wheels, which also have ABS and disc brakes. Probably because of this Ertiga is able to start, stop and speed up much more comfortably than Enjoy, which has to transmit power to its rear wheels. Also Ertiga has few more horses. There is a bit of body roll, but nothing inhibitive.

Coming to speed, Ertiga fares better than its cousins, with top speed touching 165-170kmph when not loaded heavily and provided you’ve empty long stretch of road to floor the pedal. But beyond 120kmph it takes more time than Swift to accelerate. Understandably  most of Ertiga’s extra horses are asked to focus on pulling more load, than pulling the load faster. Serves well for the MPV, dubbed as LUV. If you’re inhibited by someone’s statement that Ertiga is NOT good for highway, I suggest don’t believe it blindly.
On bad roads, Ertiga is Ok-Ok. It has good ground clearance and won’t suffer under the body scraps, but doesn’t absorb the impact as much as Innova would. People inside will be woken up from their sleeps.

Fuel economy:
Ertiga’s fuel economy is at par with the similarly priced sedans. I got an average of 15.68 kmpl overall (+/- 0.5 kmpl), despite using AC, having up to 7 people and luggage for most of the journey and driving through curvy hills and cruising on highways. The display on dashboard was showing 16.4 kmpl as average.
This number is almost at par with what I used to get in Ford fiesta classic or Swift. While returning from Dandeli we were low on fuel (Orange indicator came out and Distance to Empty indicator showed no numbers at all, just - - -) and drove close to 50kms before we could find a fuel station. (Even Jeremy Clarkson experienced it in a Jaguar during one of Top gear challenges- the Jag had 100kms worth fuel left in its engine even after he won his mission). Thus to be noted that Range indicators keep very high buffer and do not indicate actual kms car can cover in remaining fuel. I was testing the instantaneous mileage- while driving at 165kmph, it would show an economy of 7.5kmpl, @ 60kmph in 4th gear, FE was 20kmpl, driving at 80kmph in 5th gear showed an economy of 30kmpl. But these are only indicative.
What I drove was a VDi variant. ZDi is the top end, which comes with alloy wheels, 2 airbags and few other extras
Possible improvements:
  • It takes some effort to press the horn, since horn pad is small. Making it slightly larger or providing a button on the spoke can make it easier for the driver.
  • Lots of fabric used in door and other places tend to get dirty and difficult to clean. Different material can be used here
  • Add a 6 seater variant with second row bucket seats
  • Center armrest for 3rd row passengers, similar to one provided in second row, could have been nice
Ertiga rear view, near Mullayana Giri. Lots of reflectors and red lights all around is good for night safety
Above: Thanks to Ertiga, we covered close to 700kms on day 4 of our trip: Gokarna-Yana caves-Kumta-Shimoga-Mullayyanagiri-Hasan-Blr. Image courtesy-Sandeep

Summary:
Good sales volume has already proved that Ertiga is a good allrounder offering excellent value for money. if you're on limited budget and want a bit of everything (space, power...), Ertiga is a good compromise.

Pros: Very good handling compared to other vehicles in its class, good fuel economy, ABS
Cons: Qualifies as a 6.5 seater, not 7, roof rack must for luggage during long trips
Ertiga interior wide angle view clicked by Sandeep Srinivasa using a wide angle lens

3 comments :

Deguide said...

Good review on Ertiga, another plus point will be service cost will be much cheaper than any competitors. Let me check with my friend who has bought Ertiga last month regarding its performance. He has paid 8.96 lakhs on road

Anonymous said...

good reveiw i myself was planning a trip n somebody told me i doesnt fare good as seven seater but now after reading your reveiw i think i'll take my chances




Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Umesh sir
Thanks. Yes, it is cheaper to maintain.

@Anon: Sure. If you can pay more there are always better options, but Ertiga will do just fine.